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http://www.durhamregion.com/dr/sports/story/1632136p-1920642c.html

DURHAM - It didn't take long for the Canadian Professional Soccer League to fill a void left by the Durham Flames.

Just over a month after giving the Flames the boot from the league for failing to miss several deadlines, the CPSL is set to approve the relocation of the Mississauga Olympians to Durham for the 2004 season.

While saying it "is not 100 per cent approved by the board yet," Stan Adamson, the CPSL's director of media relations, adds that it will "almost certainly" become a reality prior to the start of the coming season.

Who will own the team appears to be still up in the air, however.

Current owner David Gee has confirmed he will move the team and says he is looking for financial support locally.

But John O'Neill, a director with the Durham Region Soccer Association, is trying to put together a group to purchase the franchise from Gee.

Either way, Gee says there will be a team back at Oshawa's Civic Stadium come soccer season, it will likely be called the Durham Olympians and will play its home games on Friday evenings.

"We'll be playing in Durham this year whether I'm the owner or Bill Clinton's the owner," says Gee, adding with respect to a possible sale that, "anything's possible for the right price."

O'Neill has been busy approaching local businesses and youth soccer clubs to garner support for another Durham team in the CPSL.

He says it costs $75,000 for a new CPSL franchise, plus a $50,000 bond and approximately $20,000 for various fees.

"Under the right circumstances, I would put some money in, but I'm not going to throw it away," says O'Neill. "The way I think it should be run is as a non-profit group, run by the community."

Gee, who bought the Olympians from Coffee Time owner Tom Michalopoulos three years ago, has struggled to match his predecessor's success.

The Toronto Olympians were the class of the league under the free-spending Michalopoulos, winning six of the nine possible trophies in the first three years of the CPSL.

Still supported by sponsorship from Coffee Time, the Olympians remained competitive under Gee for two years in Mississauga, but struggled last season when the sponsorship money dried up. To make matters worse, renovations at their home field forced the Olympians to play all of last season on the road, where they managed a 4-10-4 record.

"I had the opportunity to move to Durham Region, which is a huge soccer area, a soccer market to be cultivated," says Gee, who is the administrator for the Ontario Soccer League.

"Looking after the OSL, I know the soccer potential in Durham and, to be quite honest, I had nowhere else to go."

The CPSL already has a Mississauga-based franchise, Toronto Croatia, as well as the Toronto Lions, Toronto Supra, Vaughan Shooters, North York Astros and Brampton Hitmen in the GTA.

"Durham's a great region for soccer and we so wanted a team in the area," says Adamson. "We're very pleased, especially so quickly after the Durham Flames' situation."

The Flames, who closed out an inauspicious six-year history with a 1-16-1 record last season, were kicked out of the league in December after failing to meet four deadlines to pay outstanding fines and league fees.

The CPSL also turfed the Ottawa Wizards, but has since welcomed Windsor to the fold, bringing the league to 12 teams.

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From http://www.durhamregion.com/dr/sports/story/1642141p-1933054c.html:

Pro soccer returns to Durham

John O'Neill buys Olympians, expects new name for CPSL club

Jan 25, 2004

Brian Mcnair, Sports Writer

DURHAM - Oshawa resident John O'Neill has purchased the Canadian Professional Soccer League's Mississauga Olympians and will move them into Civic Stadium this season.

The club will be known as the Durham Olympians for now, but that's likely to change to reflect the sponsorship O'Neill is confident he will secure prior to the league drawing up its schedule in March.

The new team has moved in quickly to fill a void left when the Durham Flames were ejected from the CPSL in December for missing several deadlines to settle outstanding fines and fees.

O'Neill, a director with the Durham Region Soccer Association, is confident he can achieve what the Flames failed to do during their six-year history: field a competitive team and draw support from the region's many soccer enthusiasts.

"I think this thing will take off," says O'Neill, who plans to run the team as a non-profit organization and involve as many Durham soccer groups as possible. "If it's run properly and under the right circumstances, this can work."

O'Neill purchased the team from Mississauga's David Gee for what he called "a good price", but one he said he "can't disclose."

Gee, who said on Monday with respect to a potential sale, "anything's possible for the right price," couldn't be reached for comment Friday. He bought the highly successfully Olympians from Coffee Time owner Tom Michalopoulos three years ago, but struggled to match his predecessor's success.

O'Neill says he currently has the rights to 25 players on each of the Olympians and Flames, but will only be able to protect 25 of the 50 by March. The Flames finished last in the league with a 1-16-1 record a year ago, while the Olympians were 4-10-4.

"To compete in this league, we're going to have to get better players," says O'Neill. "All we're trying to do is promote the game and develop it."

O'Neill has many things to iron out prior to the start of the season in May, but hopes to have the team's new name and head coach ready to announce at a press conference on Monday, Feb. 2.

He says he would like to see as many soccer people as possible at the meeting, which will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the DRSA office, 1077 Boundary Rd. S. in Oshawa.

"My big thing is development - players, coaches, referees - to develop the game and give kids opportunities," says O'Neill, a native of Scotland who has been involved with the game at all levels.

O'Neill hopes the team can play its home games on Friday evenings. He plans to offer free admission to any child wearing a youth soccer jersey and believes he can draw as many as 800 fans to games.

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He might be able to, but he needs to advertise it well and actually get the youth involved and let them kno that there is soccer that you can goto and watch. Oshawa LOVES the small town teams, its somthing they can relate to. Look at the Oshawa Generals, a small market team which caters to the average joe. It works wonders

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He might be able to, but he needs to advertise it well and actually get the youth involved and let them kno that there is soccer that you can goto and watch. Oshawa LOVES the small town teams, its somthing they can relate to. Look at the Oshawa Generals, a small market team which caters to the average joe. It works wonders

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This can only be good for the league. Mississauga's travelling roadshow, while fun to make fun of when they visited Hamilton, was an embarassment that made the league look even more bush league than it normally does - which is saying something. This also partialy solves the Toronto to Quebec border gap problem though the Kingston rumors I've heard on here and from a source with some connections to the league and a quick return to Ottawa would obviously be preferable.

Now if we could only get Toronto Croatia to acknowledge that they play in Mississauga. Which actually brings up another good point. How do people here feel about ethnically oriented teams in the Canadian context? I know in Australia that there has been a move to break the traditional explicit ehtnic connections of many of the clubs so that they can broaden their appeal. I'm kinda split. As a Celtic supporter I understand that maintaining ties to a homeland can be an important part of a club's identity but I just feel that calling the team Croatia ends up excluding more potential fans than it could possibly ever encourage to come out to matches. That said this club was once a continental power and allegedly draws way better than most of the CPSL - never been to their ground so I can't say - so what do I know? If I had my givens and druthers though they'd just call themselves Mississauga F.C. or Peel United or something but still maintain a strong Croatian identity by emphasising the history of the club and incorporating identifiably Croation colours into their uniforms (red and white checkers). Anyone else have any thoughts?

Mike.

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Mike:

In Melbourne, Melbourne Croatia became the Melbourne Knights.

I'm with you though Toronto Croatia should become Mississauga FC.(I would have also favored Mississauga Knights but there were rumors of a Caledon Knights team coming into the CPSL) And the CPSL should apply this standard of not having ethnic names across the board. Consider. When the Metro Lions came into the CPSL, they wanted to use the name ''All Nations''(used in Africa). The League said no.

Just a thought.

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quote:Originally posted by BTHC Mike

This also partialy solves the Toronto to Quebec border gap problem

But the gap is about 500 km and this reduces it by 30 km, which really doesn't make a difference. Laval traveling to Oshawa is basically the same as traveling to Toronto.

quote:Now if we could only get Toronto Croatia to acknowledge that they play in Mississauga.
Yes! Definitely!

quote:How do people here feel about ethnically oriented teams in the Canadian context?
Clearly you are new here. :D Don't take that the wrong way. It's just that this topic has been discussed ad nauseum. It seems to come up monthly, though mostly on the other forum.

Generally speaking, after having read and been involved in discussions on this topic many times over the last several years, it seems to me that most Voyageurs are against ethnic names for professional and semi-professional teams (though more leeway is given for clubs at the amateur level). The main reason for this is exactly the one you have given:

quote:I just feel that calling the team Croatia ends up excluding more potential fans than it could possibly ever encourage to come out to matches.
I completely agree with that.

However, it should be noted that clubs shouldn't try to "hide" behind good nicknames, either. If they actually are ethnic or have other qualities (besides their nickname) that make them appear ethnic then their nickname isn't going to make much of a difference. This is one aspect of this issue that we have not discussed much.

For example, if Toronto Croatia were to change their nickname to something neutral but still maintained a strong Croatian identity then we would have the same problem with non-Croatians feeling isolated (the only difference being that they would actually have to show up for a match to see this). I have not been to Toronto Croatia's home ground, either, but I have seen them play at North York (the team I support) a couple of times. I was pleasantly surprised at how many of their fans turned up (granted, one of these matches was in the Playoff Cup when attendance increases in general, but there were a couple hundred of them and you don't see anything close to that with any other CPSL team). However, what I really didn't like was that virtually all of these fans were Croatian. I know people from all of the Balkan countries (some of them are good friends of mine) and they are all really cool people, so my problem is not the fact that the fans were Croatian. My problem is that they were all from one ethnic group (I would say this about any ethnic group, even my own). If I lived near their home ground in Mississauga I'd probably want to support them based on geography, but then I'd certainly feel like an outsider when everyone around me is speaking a different language (and it would be even worse if I wasn't already accustomed to it through my friends).

Another example is Toronto Supra. Most of their PA announcements are made in Portuguese, so the fact that their nickname is neutral is rather superficial.

The bottom line: clubs that want to attract as many fans as possible should not be ethnic and should also not appear ethnic in any way (including, but not limited to, nicknames, logos, uniforms, language, ethnicity of players, etc.). The thing about clubs like Toronto Croatia and Toronto Supra is that they probably don't really care about attracting more fans and probably place more value on maintaining their identities. In any case, I doubt that they could attract more fans (in fact, they'd probably attract fewer) even if they appeared less ethnic given the nature of the CPSL, particularly in the GTA.

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quote:Originally posted by BTHC Mike

This also partialy solves the Toronto to Quebec border gap problem

But the gap is about 500 km and this reduces it by 30 km, which really doesn't make a difference. Laval traveling to Oshawa is basically the same as traveling to Toronto.

quote:Now if we could only get Toronto Croatia to acknowledge that they play in Mississauga.
Yes! Definitely!

quote:How do people here feel about ethnically oriented teams in the Canadian context?
Clearly you are new here. :D Don't take that the wrong way. It's just that this topic has been discussed ad nauseum. It seems to come up monthly, though mostly on the other forum.

Generally speaking, after having read and been involved in discussions on this topic many times over the last several years, it seems to me that most Voyageurs are against ethnic names for professional and semi-professional teams (though more leeway is given for clubs at the amateur level). The main reason for this is exactly the one you have given:

quote:I just feel that calling the team Croatia ends up excluding more potential fans than it could possibly ever encourage to come out to matches.
I completely agree with that.

However, it should be noted that clubs shouldn't try to "hide" behind good nicknames, either. If they actually are ethnic or have other qualities (besides their nickname) that make them appear ethnic then their nickname isn't going to make much of a difference. This is one aspect of this issue that we have not discussed much.

For example, if Toronto Croatia were to change their nickname to something neutral but still maintained a strong Croatian identity then we would have the same problem with non-Croatians feeling isolated (the only difference being that they would actually have to show up for a match to see this). I have not been to Toronto Croatia's home ground, either, but I have seen them play at North York (the team I support) a couple of times. I was pleasantly surprised at how many of their fans turned up (granted, one of these matches was in the Playoff Cup when attendance increases in general, but there were a couple hundred of them and you don't see anything close to that with any other CPSL team). However, what I really didn't like was that virtually all of these fans were Croatian. I know people from all of the Balkan countries (some of them are good friends of mine) and they are all really cool people, so my problem is not the fact that the fans were Croatian. My problem is that they were all from one ethnic group (I would say this about any ethnic group, even my own). If I lived near their home ground in Mississauga I'd probably want to support them based on geography, but then I'd certainly feel like an outsider when everyone around me is speaking a different language (and it would be even worse if I wasn't already accustomed to it through my friends).

Another example is Toronto Supra. Most of their PA announcements are made in Portuguese, so the fact that their nickname is neutral is rather superficial.

The bottom line: clubs that want to attract as many fans as possible should not be ethnic and should also not appear ethnic in any way (including, but not limited to, nicknames, logos, uniforms, language, ethnicity of players, etc.). The thing about clubs like Toronto Croatia and Toronto Supra is that they probably don't really care about attracting more fans and probably place more value on maintaining their identities. In any case, I doubt that they could attract more fans (in fact, they'd probably attract fewer) even if they appeared less ethnic given the nature of the CPSL, particularly in the GTA.

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quote:But the gap is about 500 km and this reduces it by 30 km, which really doesn't make a difference. Laval traveling to Oshawa is basically the same as traveling to Toronto.

I meant it more in a psychological manner. At least there's something on the other side of TO. Laval has far to travel regardless of whether or not Ottawa is in the league.

quote:Clearly you are new here. Don't take that the wrong way. It's just that this topic has been discussed ad nauseum.

Touche.

quote:Generally speaking, after having read and been involved in discussions on this topic many times over the last several years, it seems to me that most Voyageurs are against ethnic names for professional and semi-professional teams (though more leeway is given for clubs at the amateur level).

I think that you could say on the other hand that clubs should, at their best, represent communities. These communties do not necessarily have to be geographically defined but rather could be ethno-lingusitically defined or even defined by a class or profession. Whatever brings people together. If a club is successful and has an identity why would they want to fight against that? New clubs at higher levels have to cast there net as widely as possible and cannot afford to be exclusive but the lower you are willing to go on the totem pole (so to speak) the more tightly you can define your constituency.

quote:However, it should be noted that clubs shouldn't try to "hide" behind good nicknames, either. If they actually are ethnic or have other qualities (besides their nickname) that make them appear ethnic then their nickname isn't going to make much of a difference.

I disagree here. Perception can mean a great deal. A name like Toronto Croatia says to me that it is a Croatian club for Croatians. It is very "in-you-face" if you will. Merely, acknowledging the heritage of the club in uniform selection, crest design, etc. is much softer yet is still unlikely to alienate the original fan base.

quote:If I lived near their home ground in Mississauga I'd probably want to support them based on geography, but then I'd certainly feel like an outsider when everyone around me is speaking a different language (and it would be even worse if I wasn't already accustomed to it through my friends).

Fair enough but then the solution is to have another non-ethnic team in the region. I guess this is what the CPSL was going for with the Olympians - TC represents the ethnic Croatian community of greater TO and the Olympians represented the geographic community of Mississauga. With the absence of the Olympians TC has a chance to broaden their support - the question is do they want to?

quote:The thing about clubs like Toronto Croatia and Toronto Supra is that they probably don't really care about attracting more fans and probably place more value on maintaining their identities. In any case, I doubt that they could attract more fans (in fact, they'd probably attract fewer) even if they appeared less ethnic given the nature of the CPSL, particularly in the GTA.

That's really the crux of the issue then isn't it. The only thing that would really solve this in the end is a better league structure in Canada that rewards clubs that expand their fan base (and therefore financial ability to attract better players) and punishes those who can't compete. Until there is a higher level of competition for these clubs to aspire to what do they need more fans for? Since, judging by the archives, re-organizing Canadian soccer's leagues is the most over discussed topic on these boards I'll leave my opinions on that to bore you with on a future date.

Mike.

p.s. Thank-you for changing my User ID incidentally!

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No more ethnic names? Then you're going to have to make sure the teams don't move around to maintaing consistancy. Ok, maybe the Olympians built up some loyalty.

Let's go support Toronto Olympians playing in Scarborough's Birchmount Stadium.

Oops now they've moved to Mississauga and played at Erin Mills Stadium.

Only one year and then in a stadium dispute they have no home field so they play 2003 on the road.

Now 2004 and it's on to Oshawa and a new name, Durham Olympians, replacing the booted Durham Flames.

So, Toronto Olympians, Mississauga Olympians, Nomadic Olympians, Durham Olympians.

Just their Olympians name stayed constant.

So don't get so attached to names as the teams can move. Toronto Blizzard, Toronto Croatia has done this. I'll say by next year they'll be a franchise back in Ottawa with different ownership.

Also last poster recall that Olympians were given that name by the Coffee Time Donuts owner to underline his Greek heritage.

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BHTC Mike:

Allow me to separate two issues we've touched on: (1) whether or not ethnic-based clubs are acceptable, and (2) what are the criteria for determining what makes clubs "ethnic".

I was trying to avoid getting into (1) because I've gone through it enough already. I just wanted to give you a summary of how most Voyageurs who have weighed in on this topic (including myself) seem to feel, but I don't really want to get into much more detail. If you're interested in getting deeper into this then I would suggest looking at the most recent long-winded discussion/debate/argument on this topic that broke out on the other forum last week. For the record, I agree with most of what MCM (and the others sharing his point of view) says in that thread.

As for (2), I mentioned it because we usually focus only on nicknames but there are other important factors as well. Thus, I will say a few more words on this in response to your comments...

quote:Originally posted by BHTC Mike

I disagree here. Perception can mean a great deal. A name like Toronto Croatia says to me that it is a Croatian club for Croatians. It is very "in-you-face" if you will. Merely, acknowledging the heritage of the club in uniform selection, crest design, etc. is much softer yet is still unlikely to alienate the original fan base.
I agree that "perception can mean a great deal", so I agree that "a name like Toronto Croatia says to me that it is a Croatian club for Croatians". My point is that perception goes beyond nicknames. Uniforms, colours, crests, ethnicities of players, languages used, etc. are all important as well. Therefore, clubs cannot stop at a neutral nickname if they want to attract fans beyond a certain group. They must also consider whether these other factors might alienate potential new fans. I'm not saying that these other factors definitely will alienate other fans, just that they might, depending on the situation, so it's something to be aware of. (My favourite example in the CPSL is the one I used before, Toronto Supra: their neutral name is rendered irrelevant when you attend a match and hear Portuguese PA announcements, which make you think they are a Portuguese club just as Toronto Croatia's name makes you think they are a Croatian club.)

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